My dearest Readers,
Happy New Year!!! Goodness...it's 2011. Which means we have yet another year of sexual history to look forward to! This month's blog post will be dedicated to not only the history behind Book 1 of Prelude to a Scandal. A lot of history went into this particular book, though I like to call it "hidden" history that most people will most likely overlook. Yes. Even you. What are some of the hidden histories? 1.) Sodomy laws. 2.) Censorship of books 3.) Pornography portraits 4.) Sexual addiction
1.) Let us begin with the topic of sodomy laws, shall we? We'll keep it to England, for this could be a whole historical topic in and of itself. The very first legislative sodomy law established in England was done so by none other than Henry the VIII himself.
Surprised? No. I'm sure you're not. It was known as the Buggery Act of 1533, making sodomy punishable by hanging. Sodomy was referred to as "buggery" all throughout England. And this particular law was not lifted until 1861. As was defined by the Act, it referred to any form of anal penetration, be it with another male or a female, though obviously, the core of the law focused on homosexuality. If you were found guilty, you were hanged. If you were found guilty of "attempting buggery" (meaning, you ALMOST did it) you were slapped with a jail sentence that lasted up to two years. I wonder how an ALMOST was proven in courts??? Of course, the justice system back then wasn't really justice as we would define it... This Act lay untouched for the longest time (no pun intended...). Surprisingly, in 1828, the buggery laws were actually reshuffled and strengthened, persecuting more people within a three decade period than had been done in a hundred year period. When the death penalty was lifted in 1861, parliament sought to lay out another law under a broader term known as the Laboucher Amendment (because French makes it sound so naughty, right?). This Amendment was passed in 1885 and forbade GROSS INDECENCY between males, which really made anything homosexual related illegal. Oscar Wilde got caught up in this law. This law wasn't lifted from England's law books until 1967. Seriously.
2.) Censorship of books was always somewhat present in England's laws, but a blind eye was usually turned toward things like pornography until about the end of the Georgian period that brought us into the Regency period. There was such a rise in religious endeavors against indecency in literature that the law had to start paying attention to more due to the middle class rising and having more of a voice in both church, the streets and edging into parliament. Most pornography in the Regency and Romantic period as well as going into the Victorian period were done by women and men who translated and printed pornography under pseudonyms, though many were often caught and were fined heavily and jailed for it.
(The above is a Victorian edition of Fanny Hill...note the amount of LOVE that went into it, lol) Because it was difficult to have a store front for pornography in the Regency, Romantic and Victorian era, men and women figured out ways to "cheat" the system. One way was by throwing them over the fences of boarding schools. Other ways included hand selling in certain areas and to certain clients looking for pornographic reads. Needless to say, most of these people were eventually unearthed, but they made quite a living at it in between being caught.
3.) Pornography portraits have been around since paint. Portraits of women were very intimate to begin with, but to have a certain woman painted in life size and in a certain pose or with a certain lack of clothing was considered "pornography" a gentleman would never hang outside the walls of his bedchamber. Unless he happens to be my hero, lol.
Many gentlemen "hid" these portraits within the confines of their bedchambers throughout the centuries beneath a curtain and would drape it open and make use of it whenever they felt particularly frisky. And yes, you had better believe I made use of this history in my book, lol.
4.) Sexual addiction. While this is a modern terminology, sexual addiction has been around ever since men had cocks. Just as drunks have been around ever since there was ale. Back then, such addictions were not understood. If a woman had a form of sexual addiction, she was considered a whore. Period. If a man had a form of sexual addiction, he was a rake. Period. It wasn't seen as a problem. Though going through Casanova's memoirs as well as the writings of MY SECRET LIFE, I have no doubt whatsoever both men had serious sexual addiction problems. For they were obsessed with it not just physically, but mentally. Even today, very few people understand what sexual addiction really is. There are many different levels of sexual addiction. From self-masturbation to fetishes that are based upon their "moods" and their "thoughts" and their "compulsions." And yes, I decided to write about it because it is an addiction that is so little understood and most certainly not discussed in historical context. Now mind you, I write romance, so I had to bring about a happily ever after that might not have actually happened for a sex addict back in 1829. But I believe in the healing power of love and I hope you do, too.
That said, in honor of PRELUDE TO A SCANDAL'S release, I am hosting a very special giveaway. Be sure to get your hands on a copy of Prelude to a Scandal for your chance to win a $25 gift card to Barnes and Noble. How do you enter??? The first person to post the correct name of Lady Justine's South African Hottentot guide will win the gift card! Of course, we just can't have only ONE person winning, can we? Nooooo. So here's your chance to win second place. Everyone who posts will have their name put into a drawing to win an authentic carved, South African letter opener from Cape Town (which is where my heroine Justine was raised).
All you have to do is answer this one question: What is the name of Justine's etiquette book and who is the author? Winners will be formally announced a week before February 1st. Please post your email along with your answer so I can contact you if you win.
And be sure to return to both the February and March post, where I will be giving away more prizes and history relating to each book!
Until next time...Cheers and much love,